The results were fascinating—and surprising. Smaller, quirky and plucky towns came out ahead. Scunthorpe, a steel town in the north of England, topped the U.K.’s list. Caen, a town in rural Normandy not far from the D-Day beaches and famed as the home of camembert cheese, came first in France. Salerno, nestled between the Amalfi and the Cilento Coast led the way in Italy and Elbląg, a remote northern town located in the region of 1,000 lakes won in Poland. In all four participating countries, eTown lists included towns of all sizes.
How did we determine our eTown awards? We broke down the U.K., France, Italy and Poland into all of their thousands of towns and then ranked local areas according to the growth in small businesses using AdWords over the last year. The top towns in each country won Google eTown awards.
The results back up recent research identifying the Internet as a main force driving growth throughout Europe. For example, a recent McKinsey report Internet Matters states that 2.6 Internet jobs are created globally for every job destroyed. Separately, the Boston Consulting Group estimates that by 2015 the web will account for 7.3 percent of Denmark’s GDP, 10 percent of the U.K.’s GDP and 5.5 percent of France’s GDP. The net drives growth of both big and small businesses—indeed another BCG report called “Turning Local” (PDF) makes clear that small businesses with a website grow faster than businesses without a web presence.
We’ve seen this ourselves, in the businesses of all shapes and sizes that we encountered as part of our eTown awards. An entrepreneur in Hartlepool in the U.K. sells golf balls online. A Polish programmer runs a data recovery business from Piaseczno. An plumber directs a heating systems company from Vicenza, Italy and a French retailer has reached new scooter customers online in Reims. Online advertising has helped them grow and reach more customers than ever before. When it comes to the Internet, our eTown awards show that anybody, almost anywhere, can boost a business by going online.
Posted by Ben Novick, European Communications Manager